Should you Move to the Cloud ?

Options for leveraging the benefits of cloud and on-site software installations. 

The choice between cloud or on premises software implementations is a critical decision for businesses seeking efficient, secure, and scalable computing environments. There are pros and cons of each option; this article highlights each, and makes recommendations for taking advantage of both implementations based on your needs and preferences.

The Cloud Advantage

According to Forbes, “77% of enterprises have at least one application or a portion of their enterprise computing infrastructure in the cloud.” Enterprises cite reduced capital expenditures for hardware and software purchases as the primary reason for cloud adoption. Moving operations to the cloud results in lower infrastructure and storage costs and increased operational efficiency. Further, Forbes says that the executive management of many technology-dependent industries including manufacturing, high-tech, and telecom are making the push to become 100% cloud based.

Another consideration in cloud adoption is how your data will be managed. Fully-managed cloud is managed entirely by your provider, so your IT staff does not have involvement in the technical details of managing a cloud server. This hands-off management can increase productivity and allow employees to focus on other tasks, however, it is typically more expensive.

Self-managed cloud is managed in-house, and no support is provided by the host. Self-managed setups are less expensive than those that are fully managed, and the user has full control. But this also means that IT staff are responsible for all maintenance and server upkeep, which may not be the most efficient use of time. Cloud computing offers a plethora of benefits, making it an attractive option for consumers seeking flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Here are the key advantages:

Pros of Cloud Computing:

  1. Cost Savings: Cloud adoption eliminates the need for expensive upfront investments in hardware and in software licenses. Organizations can leverage a budget-friendly pay-as-you-go model, paying only for the resources they use. In the Azure and AWS marketplaces, pricing for these models is fixed, so there are no price increased for the duration of the subscription.
  2. Scalability: Cloud solutions offer unparalleled scalability, allowing consumers to scale up or down based on their needs. This elasticity ensures optimal resource utilization, especially during periods of high transaction volumes.
  3. Operational Efficiency: With fully-managed cloud services, consumers can focus on their core activities, as the burden of infrastructure maintenance is shifted to the cloud service provider (CSP). This enhances operational efficiency and frees up resources for strategic tasks.

Cons of Cloud Computing:

  1. Data Security Concerns: Entrusting data security to a third-party solution provider may raise concerns. Major cloud providers, such as Azure and AWS, invest heavily in security measures, but organizations must carefully evaluate their chosen provider relative to their security focus.
  2. Migration Challenges: Migrating existing data and applications to the cloud can be time-consuming, and it may result in unforeseen downtime. Planning and utilizing tools like Microsoft SQL or WebDrive can mitigate these challenges.
  3. Unforeseen Costs: Despite significant cost savings in hardware, time and software licensing, it’s important to fully understand all costs, including bandwidth, storage, processor usage and even the location of the data center. Microsoft Azure has different price structures based upon region. Multiple regions should be evaluated. 

On-Premises Solutions

For consumers valuing complete control over their IT infrastructure, on-premises solutions remain a steadfast option. 

Pros of On-Premises Solutions:

  1. Control and Security: On-premises solutions provide consumers with absolute control over their data and infrastructure, alleviating concerns related to third-party control. Organizations with access-controlled data centers have the advantage of managing access to physical servers and storage devices.
  2. Capital Expenditures: Businesses with a preference for higher capital expenditures and the associated depreciation charges, will benefit from on-site installations.
  3. Customization: On-premises solutions allow for greater customization of hardware and software configurations, catering to specific needs and workflows.

Cons of On-Premises Solutions:

  1. Upfront Costs: The initial investment in hardware and software can be substantial, potentially limiting access for smaller businesses or individuals.
  2. Limited Scalability: Scaling up or down with on-premises solutions can be cumbersome and may require additional investments in hardware, leading to a less flexible environment.
  3. Maintenance Responsibility: Consumers bear the responsibility of maintaining and upgrading hardware, which can be time-consuming and may divert resources from strategic tasks.
  4. Ongoing M&S costs: these costs increase annually, and sometimes large increases that are not budgeted can result in exceeding operational software budgets.
  5. Real Estate Costs: commercial real estate is expensive, and the amount of square footage to accommodate a data center is significant. The cost of utilities also adds to the expense of operating an on-premises data center. 

Embracing On-Premises/Cloud Hybrid Solutions

A hybrid approach seeks to combine the benefits of both on-premises and cloud solutions. Security concerns and the manpower involved in a cloud migration can make a hybrid approach attractive for your enterprise. Consider initially moving less sensitive data and applications to the cloud, and using the cloud for encrypted backups. This will accomplish the initial steps of reducing hardware and software expenditures.

The human element is also a key consideration in successful migration to the cloud. Drastic changes in user access to information can result in frustration and lost productivity.

Pros of Hybrid Solutions:

  1. Flexibility: Hybrid solutions offer flexibility by allowing consumers to keep sensitive data on-premises while utilizing the cloud for scalable and less critical workloads. This flexibility accommodates diverse business needs.
  2. Cost Optimization: Consumers can optimize costs by balancing on-premises investments with the scalability and cost-effectiveness of the cloud, achieving a tailored and cost-efficient IT environment.
  3. Disaster Recovery: Creating an environment with local servers clustered with failover servers in the cloud enhances high-availability and disaster recovery capabilities, ensuring business continuity.

Cons of Hybrid Solutions:

  1. Operational Complexity: Managing a hybrid environment requires a careful balance between on-premises and cloud components, potentially adding operational complexity.
  2. Dual Responsibility: Hybrid solutions require businesses to manage on-premises infrastructure while relying on a cloud service provider, introducing a dual responsibility that demands careful coordination.

Choosing between on-premises, cloud, or a hybrid solution must be evaluated based upon security, budget, and operational objectives. Each option offers distinct advantages and challenges. A detailed analysis and cost comparison, security evaluation and careful vetting of software vendors is necessary to ensure the optimal solution.

Titan MFT Managed File Transfer solution is available in a cost-effective Pay-as-You-Go model in the Azure and AWS marketplaces. Titan MFT supports clustering across cloud and on-premises installations. 

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